Day 102 has been very off balance but seen 10 miles walked, a suntan and happy children.

Walking up Carse Hill enjoying the view over the trees to the hills and mountains beyond
Walking up Carse Hill

I woke at around 4:30 this morning to go to the loo. I could hardly stand my balance was so off. I turned my bedside light on to give some visual reference on which the brain could balance me but nothing. It is all very well training the brain to take on the balance function from visual references, when my inner was removed, but for it to work you need the brain to be functioning. It wasn’t. So I was suddenly getting a taste of what life might be like without good cognitive function. A flash forward to the future. I had to go to the loo and needed to find a way to get there. My Oncology team had warned me that it would take 6 months for the brain to recover after Brain Surgery, 30 Radiotherapy Treatments and 12 Months of Chemotherapy all back to back. That the 6 months would have some great ups but also some wicked downs. I had identified that it was in those downs, when my brain was at its slowest, that I had to fight hardest to get it functioning in order to try and force it to grow the backup cognitive and motor function in the healthy left side of the brain. It wasn’t going to be easy but the theory was entirely possible. I just had to force the rewiring by not giving in when common sense said lie down and take a break. But right now I needed a pee really badly so needed to force the brain to fire up the left ,healthy, side of the brain to take over and get me walking. I tried standing. Legs were strong but the room was spinning. My coordination was suffering. I was banging into the bed, the window and back again like a pin ball as I fought my way to the loo. Got there and tried to hit the light switch. I had to wrap myself around the door frame to find enough stability to try and actually get the light switch. Missed. Missed again but third time lucky got it. Got to the loo but had to sit. To try and pee standing would have been very messy right now. As I lifted the lid I staggered back in to the wall by the shower. Lent forward and fell towards the loo. Got to the loo and anchored against the cistern I managed to twist and sit. I still had my pyjama bottoms on!! Got up and fell forward against the wall. Not far but somehow I had to get my pyjamas down and sit again. I clung onto the wall with one hand and my forehead and with the other hand pulled down my bottoms. Now how was I going to get back to and on to the loo with pyjamas around my ankles? One leg out. The other leg out and in the process knocked stuff in to the sink and stuff off the window frame. It was a wonder I didn’t wake the whole house up or wet myself. But I made it and peed a most satisfying pee. But then despair. I had to get back to bed. More banging and crashing and more noise but made it and as I lay back and closed my eyes the room stopped spinning, the house appeared quiet and I drifted back off to sleep. 06:10 and the alarm startles me in to a form of awake but still a very off balance version. My brain was working now but slowly so if I took things slowly I managed fine. Brushed my teeth and felt a little like I was standing in the heads of a large ship in a big swell. The room felt like it was moving and certainly I was moving. Swaying left and right, a little back and forth while I anchored myself with my left hand on the sink brushing my teeth with my right. Then a shave. Wet and washed my face, unsteadily, but managed it, braced myself against the sink with my midrift and leaning across the sink looking straight in to the mirror watching my upper body sway slowly from left to right as I lathered my face. I started shaving and thank goodness for safety razors. Where I initially tried to land the razor wasn’t where it landed but managed to time it right after that and shaved without a nick. My balance was getting slowly better as my brain started to wake up and function a little more efficiently. Got dressed, woke the children and holding on tight went downstairs to take the dog for a 2 mile walk. It had snowed and frozen overnight so there was plenty of grip underfoot. I was going but took my walking poles for balance. As I walked along the street I didn’t really need them. The fresh air had woken the brain. Into the ponds and headtorch on I used the poles as the shadows cast by the headtorch confused the balance a little but a lovely walk cracking through the virgin ice on the puddles with little incident although gutted that I had remembered my phone but that the dawn hadn’t quite broken like yesterday’s spectacular.

The wonderful panoramic view of Ben Ledi
The wonderful panoramic view of Ben Ledi

Back home unpacked the dishwasher, laid breakfast, ate with the children and checked with James that all was squared and that he knew the drill for this evening after school because tonight was Heather’s Parents evening. He was going to Cameron’s house, then Scouts with Cameron and home after Scouts. All done, children off to school and had to make some phonecalls about the developing website and my broken laptop as well as receive my internet food shop and welcome Siobhan and Laura who were coming to help with the house again. As all this was happening I was feeling gradually more stable and attempting to simultaneously prepare for a walk on to the Braes of Doune today. A lovely 8 mile walk into the Braes behind the house, along, back down to the river, back in to Doune and home again for a late lunch before heading off up to McLaren High for the Parents Evening. As I tried to pack though I realised that all wasn’t quite firing as it should. I have been packing for living and working outside in harsh and austere conditions for 25 years but now I was struggling. I suddenly realised that my kit was strewn around me. How that happened I wasn’t too sure. Then I couldn’t remember what went where and in what order. What needed waterproofing. What didn’t. Then why was my rucksack so heavy? I unpacked and checked everything. I had packed a cycle repair toolkit, heavy duty bike lock, some spanners and an extra water bottle on top of the 2 litre water bladder that I had put back in to the rucksack after filling it upside down. All for a pleasant stroll into the Braes!! Repacked and with a ready pack I set about folding the map to show the area I was walking in before inserting in to the map case. I couldn’t remember how to fold a map. It was like I was trying to learn origami or something because for a while, no matter what I tried the map just didn’t show the area I wanted to see. Again I persevered and eventually succeeded, got it in to the map case and after much fiddling, and increasing levels of frustration managed to seal it. I was now steady on my feet but really wasn’t sure that I should be heading out and up on to the Braes, on my own, onto a route that I had proven last Summer, wasn’t a designated route and so was only covered by the shepherd when he happened to be checking on or feeding his sheep. Although 5 degrees down here in the sun it was going to be close to freezing in the breeze and higher up. If I fell down and couldn’t get up I could lie undiscovered for hours if not days. It would be curtains. I checked I had my phone. Now packed. Packed the emergency blanket, bivvy bag and high visibility emergency shelter in the bottom of the rucksack where it was easily accessible through a zip in the bottom. But I still wanted to be a little more sure. The girls had gone home with the job done in the house so I polished my walking boots to buy some more time. Then it was time to go. Georgie was bouncing round the house like a 2 year old wanting to come to. It was a shortish walk close to home. Why not. I took her out of retirement as well.

Georgie came on this walk with me too
Georgie came on this walk with me too

It was a beautiful morning and after a little hesitation as to which way I should be heading I was climbing the steps out of the ponds and on to the track I needed to be on to take me up on to the Braes. I was back. Finally the brain was functioning as it should. I hit the right fence junction for the turning West up on to Carse Hill and continued the walk with no issues at all. Just soaked in the views, the smells, and sounds of the snow under foot as I walked in the warmth of the winter sunshine keeping my chin up and exposed to the sun reflecting off the snow for an even winter tan! At one point as I walked down a farm track on fresh snow with an ice crust I sounded like a Company of soldiers in hobnailed boots marching on to parade. I recorded it. Close your eyes and imagine the image of 100 kilted soldiers with white spats and hobnailed brogues marching on to parade for the start of a big parade. The pipes playing in the back ground the brass of the sporran glinting in the sunlight. Try it and see what you can hear amongst the quiet chatter of the waiting spectators!! Back off the Braes and across the road towards the old Kilmadock Cemetery. More tranquillity as I strolled along the river Teith back towards Doune. Balance and sanity restored. I had to pop into the Chemist to collect some more drugs and is rather conveniently situated right next to the wonderful Buttercup Café. I was now very late for lunch after a delayed start so popped in for an egg mayonnaise sandwich on brown bread and salad chased with decaf Mocha and a very naughty Malteser Slice with Georgie basking in the sunshine and enjoying all the attention from passers by on the street.

In the distance we could see the Ochil Hills
In the distance we could see the Ochil Hills

Back home a quick shower and time to make vegetable pick and mix bag before heading off to McLaren High for Heather’s Parent’s evening. As a Father, when diagnosed with such a disease as a BrainTumour and to have then watched the children watch you go through the pain, fear, anguish and discomfort of Brain Surgery, Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and just the uncertainty of what lies ahead, one of you greatest fears is how this diagnosis and treatment has impacted on the children’s future by disrupting their education and their very lives through the worry of it all. There have been one or two wobbles from the both which have resulted in cuddles and reassurance from their Father but McLaren High has also been brilliant at keeping an eye on them, providing appropriate counselling and support where required and generally keeping the children grounded in a caring, positive and forward leaning environment which, with a great group of friends, has also ensured that they have weathered the storms this disease has brought really incredibly well. Her reports back today were truly encouraging and all meshed completely with the understanding I had of Heather and her hopes and aspirations for the future and therefore subject choices needing to be made soon. The chat Heather and I had on all of this the other evening was time well spent and tonight was all the proof I needed that she was doing what she ought to be doing which is focusing on, working towards and looking forward to her future rather than worrying about her Father’s future. She will always have a little niggle perhaps in the back of the mind but as Iong as that is all it remains she will do really well. Well done Heather.

The challenge in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 102
Total Miles Cycled: 555
Total Miles Walked: 525.0
Total Miles Run: 27.9
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 8.4
Total Distance Swum: 500 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1123.8
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,973 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 18
Days of Voluntary Activity: 6.0
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 4
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 8
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 4
Press Ups: 202
Pull Ups: 51
Sit Ups: 202
People Met and Hands Shaken: 341
Pots of tea shared: 22
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 3
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Pills popped: 448
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 96 – £5,802.77.

Considering I started this challenge 20 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. So far that is £60.44 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.
Thank you

Yours aye